“After-school programs are a great way to keep your child safe, inspire them to learn, and introduce them to positive role models.” — USA.ChildCareAware.org
Not all programs are equal, of course — so, as you evaluate after-school programs, watch for signs of quality. These include a low child-to-staff ratio, with appropriate supervision of participants. The atmosphere should be positive and structured with activities that also encourage autonomy. Ideally, the program will provide a fairly seamless transition from the school day to the after-school program.
Care.com lists additional aspects to look for when choosing a program, including:
- A safe environment
- Well-trained staff
- Friendly administration
- Ease of staff-parent interaction
- A quality balance of structured time with unstructured
- A wide range of activities
- Community resources
- Clear communication and expectations
- A balance of indoor and outdoor activities
- A mixture of social time and private time
You can also check to see if the location providing the program is a 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC). These centers have been identified as those that provide quality academic enrichment, while also engaging families in the program and otherwise providing youth development services.
Studies of 21st CCLCs show how:
- Nearly 1 in 2 students improved grades in math and language arts
- Nearly 2 in 3 students improved class participation and homework completion
- Nearly 3 in 5 students demonstrated improved class behavior
The 21st CCLC programs are designed to encourage a student’s desire to learn, and they can benefit from hundreds (yes, literally hundreds) of activities. They receive direct instruction and also benefit from a technology-powered curriculum. Students also benefit from:
- Audio assistance
- Immediate feedback on work performed
- The ability to repeat instruction as necessary to solidify their learning
This last bullet point may be among the most crucial since, in a regular school day, children don’t always have the opportunity to repeat what’s necessary to get and keep them on track. At 21st CCLCs, students can benefit significantly through repetition.
Additional After-School Activities
Besides choosing after-school programs that help with academics, it can help to allow your children to participate in sports programs, ones focused on the arts, and so forth.
It makes sense to choose activities that interest your child AND fit into the family’s schedule overall. There’s no reason to feel guilty if you simply don’t have the time to get your children to a particular after-school activity. It’s a matter of balance.
However, Avoid overscheduling with extracurricular activities. Yes, a music class or art class may be well-taught, but it’s also important to have family time together.
Horizon Education Centers: After-School Program
We offer after-school programs for children ages 6 to 12, both before and after school, as well as on days off from school. Transportation options are available.
Horizon Education Centers provide high-quality programming that is educationally aligned, and we’re 21st CCLCs in Elyria, Lorain, Cleveland and North Olmsted. We offer extended learning opportunities, homework help and more.